Calendar and Floor Action

House of Delegates

The following is the procedure for legislation from the House perspective.

Legislation reported from committee appears on the daily House Calendar. The Calendar is the daily legislative business agenda for the House, and includes a schedule of meetings and public hearings.

As required by the Virginia Constitution, a bill must receive three readings.On the first reading, the bill number and title are printed in the Calendar or are read by the Clerk and customarily progresses to the next reading.

The second reading of the bill occurs the next day, when the patron explains the bill to the membership of the House . The bill is subject to debate and amendment on its second reading. First, the Clerk calls the bill by number and reads the title. Then the patron "speaks to the bill," explaining its intent to the membership. After he has explained the bill, and any amendment to it, he customarily finishes with the words, "Mr. Speaker, move that the House engross the bill and pass it to its third reading."

Although committees review the bulk of introduced legislation and offer the majority of amendments, a member is not precluded from offering an amendment on the floor of the House. The majority of floor amendments are line-by-line amendments, i.e., instructions to strike or add language at particular places in the printed bills or resolutions. Line-by-line amendments are drafted on amendment forms.

When substantial amendments require a complete rewrite of the legislation, an amendment in the nature of a substitute is prepared, i.e., the bill or resolution is completely rewritten. Line-by-line amendments are preferred to substitutes whenever they can be used without confusion because they are easy to prepare and can be quickly disseminated. Line-by-line amendments clearly indicate all of the changes made, while substitutes do not.

Any member who wishes to offer a floor amendment, either line-by-line or substitute, should submit the original plus two copies to the Records Clerk as soon as possible to ensure that necessary copies can be reproduced for other members.

If a bill passes its second reading, which usually occurs with a voice vote, it is engrossed and proceeds to third reading. If the voice vote outcome is unclear, the Speaker may initiate or any member may request a "division." When a "division" is called, a vote is then taken by a show of hands. A member may request a recorded division by addressing the Speaker and requesting a vote of "Yeas and Nays." The Speaker will then request a vote of those who wish "Yeas and Nays." In order to call for such a recorded division, there must be twenty percent of those members present supporting such procedure. The call for the "Yeas and Nays" must be timely.

If amendments are adopted, the bill is reprinted incorporating the changes.The next day it is placed on the Calendar for its third and final reading. At this point, the House determines whether the bill will pass and be sent to the Senate for its consideration. Normally on the third reading, after the Clerk reads the title, the Speaker says, "Shall the bill pass?" A recorded vote is then taken and the bill is either passed or defeated. If a member is seated but fails to vote, this fact may be called to the attention of the Speaker by another member and he will be recorded as voting "no."Note,however, that even after approval on the second or third reading, amendments to the bill may be made. A bill can be spoken to on the third reading but not amended, so the procedure used to accomplish such an amendment is rather complicated.

For example, the member who wants to amend the bill after it has passed its second reading must first be recognized by the Speaker. He would then move to "reconsider the vote by which the bill was engrossed and passed to its third reading for purposes of amendment." This motion can only be made by one who was on the prevailing side of the vote on the bill at its previous reading.

A motion to reconsider is not in order if the action of the House has been communicated to the Senate. If it has not been communicated, the motion to reconsider must be made within two days after the bill's final reading. If the motion to reconsider is approved, then other motions are in order. Although a member cannot argue for or against a bill on its third reading without making a "motion to reconsider,"he may "speak to the bill."

Specifically, on the third reading, the member may "speak" for or against, but he cannot yield for argument to another member during the statement. This technique is sometimes used by one who endorsed a bill as it was originally introduced, but disagrees with it in amended form. At this time he may put "on record" his reasons for not supporting the bill on its third reading.


The following is the procedure for legislation from the Senate perspective.


The Rules of the Senate provide that the Clerk shall publish a Calendar for the Senate each day the Senate meets. The Calendar is a listing of the legislation which is before the Senate.

The divisions are:

Bills in Conference

Unfinished Business (Bills which have been passed in different versions by the Senate and House of Delegates and may be resolved in a Committee of Conference)

Bills on Third Reading

Bills on Second Reading

Bills on First Reading

The bills listed under any reading would in addition to the bill number, title(short summary of the bill), and patron or patrons also include the recorded committee vote. Bills listed on Second and Third Readings also include amendments to the bill.

The bills listed under any reading would be listed under either a Uncontested or Regular Calendar. The Uncontested Calendar means the bills was reported from a Committee with no negative votes or abstentions. The Regular Calendar means the bill was did have either a negative vote or abstention when reported. This distinction is important because this enable the Senate to consider many "noncontroversial" bills at one time rather than one at a time. However, any bill on the Uncontested Calendar may be taken up by itself if requested by any member.

The Senate Calendar also contains a list of the bills introduced the day before and shows the committee to which the bill was referred. The calendar includes a schedule of committee meetings and notice of public hearings.


As required by the Virginia Constitution, the title of each bill must be read three times.

Senate legislation reported from the Committees of the Senate appears on the Senate Calendar the day after the committee meeting under the First Reading. Usually the First Reading of a bill is waived in accordance with the provisions of the Virginia Constitution. House legislation receives its first reading when received by the Senate and referred to the appropriate Committee.

Along with the bill number, Title and Patron the listing also includes the committee vote on the motion to report the legislation.

The Second Reading Senate bills contain the same information as First Reading along with any amendments reported by the Committee. For Senate legislation this is the amendable stage. On this reading, amendments are usually taken up and adopted or rejected by the Senate. Sometimes there are so many amendments to a bill that an "amendment in the nature of a substitute" is reported by the committee. This is simply the bill with all the changes incorporated in one piece of legislation. Also this is the point where floor amendments or floor substitutes may be offered by any Senator. The debate is limited to discussion on the amendments or substitute. Debate on the passage of the bill occurs on Third Reading.

Votes on amendments or substitutes are voice votes. Only when the votes are close and the President can not determine which is the prevailing side is a recorded vote taken. Following the taking up of any amendments or substitute the bills are "engrossed" and advanced to their third reading. The act of engrossing means to incorporate any amendments which may have been adopted by the Senate. If the bill had no amendments the bill as introduced is the "engrossed bill. If the Senate adopts a "substitute", the substitute becomes the engrossed bill. In the case of amendments, only the amendments which were adopted are incorporated in the bill and a new printing is done.

House legislation on Second Reading has just been reported from a committee the day before. Therefore, the listing shows only the Bill number, Title, patron and committee vote. For House legislation on this reading the bill may be read by Title or may have the reading waived pursuant to the Constitution. Debate on any amendments or substitutes takes place on Third reading.

On Third Reading, Senate bills are passed or defeated. This is where the Uncontested Calendar is used to same time. The Uncontested Calendar allow the Senate to consider this group of bills "en bloc", or all together at one time. Any Senator may request a bill to be removed from a "bloc" and taken up individually with the remaining bills taken up collectively. On the Regular Calendar bills are taken up one by one and debate on the passage of each is conducted. The Constitution requires that votes on the passage of a bill be a recorded votes showing which Senators voted "Yea" or "Nay" or "Rule 36". Rule 36 of the Senate Rules states that a Senator which has a direct interest in a bill can not vote "Yea" or "Nay". This vote does allow the senator to show that he was present for the vote. Following the vote, the Senate bills are communicated to the House of Delegates.

House legislation on Third Reading, will have any amendments, or substitutes debated along with the vote on passage. The procedure on amendments or substitutes is the same as amendments to Senate Bills on Second Reading. The procedure on votes on passage is the same as Senate Bills on Third Reading.